South Korea’s unmanned space vehicle Danuri has sent texts and images from space to Earth, successfully completing its long distance data transmission tests, the country’s science ministry said Monday.
During the first test led by the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), Danuri sent the music video of BTS’ “Dynamite” from its storage.
Danuri, also known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, underwent data transmission tests on August 25 and October 28 from 1.21 million kilometers and 1.28 million km away from Earth, respectively, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), yonhap news agency reported.
The orbiter used its own space internet device, which splits the data and sends the signal down to receivers on the ground through the US’ NASA and KARI.
On October 28, ETRI texted to Danuri, and the orbiter returned the message to the institute.
The ministry also released sets of images of the moon, which the orbiter shot every day from September 15 to October 15 with its high-definition camera.
In particular, 15 photos captured the moment of the moon passing Earth from 1.54 million km away on September 24.
Danuri, South Korea’s first space mission beyond Earth’s orbit, also observed a gamma-ray burst on October 9, which was also witnessed on Earth, added the ministry.
Meanwhile, the ministry said Danuri has successfully undergone the third trajectory correction maneuver (TCM), in which its direction, position and speed were readjusted to head back toward the moon, on Wednesday and confirmed the TCM’s success Friday, the yonhap news agency reported.
Danuri was launched in August aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in the U.S. state of Florida for South Korea’s first lunar mission.
The orbiter is currently on its way to the moon on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory — which takes the vehicle toward the sun before looping back to arrive at the moon’s orbit in December. The route, while much longer than traveling directly toward the moon, is more fuel efficient, as it uses the sun’s gravity for travel.
The science ministry said Danuri had been at 1.05 million km away from Earth and flying at a speed of 0.54 km per second as of November 7, 94 days after its launch. It has traveled a cumulative 2.66 million km so far.
It is scheduled to arrive on the moon in late December and will measure terrain, magnetic strengths, gamma rays and other traits of the lunar surface using six onboard instruments during its yearlong mission starting in January. The orbiter will also identify potential landing sites for future lunar missions.